I've already written about establishing a presence online and one of the things I mentioned there was publishing content on LinkedIn. As a network for professionals, it's the perfect place to show you know what's what in your chosen field, so today I want to tell you in detail how to publish a post on LinkedIn. I'll take you through the actual mechanics of how to post on LinkedIn as well as give you advice on making your post the best it can be.
Why publish on LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a network explicitly built around connecting professionals. That makes it an ideal, ready-made audience for you to show your know-how to, whether to potential employers, employees or customers. There are over 380 million people on LinkedIn and many of them see it as a place to learn about their industries. Check out these LinkedIn audience insights (from Design Infographics):
The nuts and bolts of publishing on LinkedIn
You can start your LinkedIn publishing career directly from the home page. All you have to do is click on the “Publish a post” button.
Then you should see this screen:
Once there, LinkedIn's editor makes it very simple to create your post. You should always include a header image, for reasons we'll talk more about later. For now, take my word for it. LinkedIn helpfully tells you what size this image should be (700x400 pixels). To add your image, click anywhere in the grey box that says “Add an image to bring your post to life” and select the file from your computer.
If you REALLY don't want to add an image, I can't force you to and you can click on the small “x” at the top right of the grey box.
Next, add your headline. Just click the cursor where it says “Write your headline” and type or paste yours in.
Then click underneath that, where it says “Start writing”, and, well, start writing. Type or paste the body of your post into this section. You can use LinkedIn's editor to create headings; make text bold, italic, underlined or scored through; left or centre align your text; add bullet points or numbered lists; and add links, images or videos. All these functions can be performed using the handy little buttons beneath your headline.
Once you're finished, click on the blue “Publish” button at the top right. Add some tags and you're good to go. When you start typing a tag, LinkedIn will give you suggestions of popular terms.TIP: LinkedIn has a detailed section in their Help Centre devoted to publishing posts. You can find it here.
OPTIONAL EXTRA: Of course, you want to use keywords that people are actually looking for, so you can also research popular keywords using Google Adwords' Keyword Planner, which you can find here. You'll need to make an account (if you haven't already got one) to use the Keyword Planner. Make sure to click on “Skip the guided set-up” to avoid having to enter billing information.
Once you are logged in, click on “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category”. Then type in some keywords related to your topic in the first box and hit enter (it's not necessary to fill out the other sections). Then you will see how many times those keywords are searched for monthly and get suggestions for similar keywords.
What should I write about?
LinkedIn's own advice is to “write about challenges you've faced, opportunities you've seized, or important trends in your industry.” That's definitely a good start, but there are a few tricks you can use, with that mindset, to kickstart the ideas process.
1. Stick to what you know.
Publishing on LinkedIn is all about leveraging your expertise. People want to read well-thought-out pieces from people who know what they're talking about. Think about what you have a deep knowledge that could be useful to someone else.
2. Check out the top posts on LinkedIn.
See what has performed well for others. This will give you some idea what people like to read and perhaps inspire some posts of your own. To do this, select “Interests” and then “Pulse” at the top of LinkedIn.
Once you are in Pulse, use the drop-down menu at the top left and click on “Top Posts”.
This will show you the posts that have been exceptionally popular recently. Click through the list on the left-hand side. Spend a bit of time seeing what people really respond to.
At least some of the posts on that list should give you ideas of your own.
3. Use LinkedIn's analytics.
Once you have a few posts under your belt, you can also look at the stats provided by LinkedIn for some inspiration. Use this link to see your analytics. For each of your posts, you can see the number of views, likes, comments and shares. Use this data to focus on the type of content your audience will engage with.
4. Write how-to guides and listicles.
These types of content aren't exactly innovative, but they work. According to a study by OkDork.com which analysed the top 3,000 posts from LinkedIn, how-to and list posts outperformed all other types of content.
5. Make sure you know your audience.
Take the time to actually look at your connections (who will automatically become your followers when you start posting). Using this link, you can see how many of your connections are in various industries and what their seniority is. Knowing that, you can tailor your content to what will interest the majority of your connections.
6. Look at what's been getting shared.
Buzzsumo is a great tool that lets you see the most shared content on a certain topic or domain. Click here to run a search that will show the most shared LinkedIn posts of the last six months. Hopefully, those topics will give you some ideas of your own.
7. What's in the news?
If something big has just happened in your industry, use that. Write your response to it. It doesn't even have to be from your industry. If you see a big story and feel like to have something relevant to say about it, go ahead. Make sure you are actually adding something to the topic, though. Don't just write something flimsy in the hoping of riding the coattails of a news story.
8. Don't just use it as a way to sell or promote your product/service.
To succeed at this, you have to offer value to whoever's going to be reading it. This usually comes in one of two ways: entertainment or information. As LinkedIn is a business network, though, you're better off going for information. If you can be entertaining at the same time, then that's even better.
Creating awesome headlines
Now that you have a topic for your post, you're going to need a headline. Here are some rules you should follow:
1. Make sure it's something that grabs people's attention while still being honest about what's in the post. Follow LinkedIn Executive Editor Daniel Roth's rule: "Be clear not clever; use puns or jokes sparingly."
2. In order to come up with the best headline, it's a good idea to write a whole bunch. Roth recommends 5-10, but some go for as many as 25. In any case, come up with some options and then send them to friends/colleagues. Ask them which ones they would actually click on.
3. Be specific. People like to see specific figures in headlines, as shown in this study by Marketing Experiments. Try the “zooming in” technique to achieve this. How that works is you start off with a simple headline that describes your topic, then you try to make it more specific in steps. An example might look like this:
Step 1: 11 Cheap Breakfast Recipes
Step 2: How to Eat a Delicious Breakfast and Save Money
Step 3: How I Save $20 a Week and Eat a Delicious Breakfast
4. Use between 40 and 49 characters. The OkDork study I mentioned before found that this length erformed best, as you can see below.
5. You should use those characters to write six words. Usability research has shown that people only scan headlines, focusing on the first three and the last three words. Make those six words count.
This isn't a hard and fast rule. There's plenty of brilliantly-performing content out there with long headlines, but it's definitely worth considering which parts of your headline people will really be paying attention to.
6. More verbs, fewer nouns. Research by folks at Buffer figured this one out. Although they focused on tweets, it’s still very applicable as it looks at what gets people clicking.
What should I include in my posts?
1. Images. Eight of them to be exact. In OkDork's study, posts with eight images were viewed WAY more than posts with more or fewer images. If you can't include eight, try to have at least one image in every post. Here are the stats:
Not everyone can afford to pay for stunning visuals. Luckily there are resources out there for the cash-strapped.
Flickr's Advanced Search allows you to look for images which are under a Creative Commons licence. Click here to search on Flickr, making sure that you change the licence settings to “Commercial use & mods allowed” (see below).
Just make sure to say where you got the picture and link to it in your post.Another site to check out is Picjumbo, which has some really beautiful images available for free.
2. Subheadings. Splitting your text up into sections, each with a subheading, makes it much easier for your readers to follow. OkDork's study also looked at how many headings you should include (Don't you just love those guys?) and found that five headings performed best, followed by nine and then seven.
Use the h1 and h2 settings provided by LinkedIn to create your headings.
Videos. Contrary to what you might expect, posts with videos and other multimedia performed worse than other posts in OkDork's research. So, just leave them out.
How long should my posts be?
Different studies have come up with different answers to this question, but the basic answer is: longer than you thought. Our favourite little OkDork study reported that posts from 1,900 to 2,000 words performed best.
A study by Medium found that, on their site, posts which take seven minutes to read held the attention of readers best. A seven-minute read equates to around 1,600 words, but this could be less if there are a lot of images.
When Buffer analysed their posts, they saw that posts with over 2,500 words were getting the most social shares.
The takeaway? Aim to write in-depth pieces that really do your subject justice. The varying answers from these sources also mean that you should do some testing of your own. Publish posts of different lengths and, over time, you will be able to see which perform best.
When should I publish my post on LinkedIn?
Once your post is written, you'll want to publish it. But when? Bear in mind that LinkedIn is a business network, so you should adjust your posting times accordingly. First thing in the morning or right after lunch are good. It seems like people like to check out a few posts immediately after sitting down at their desks.
The day you choose to post on is important, too. As with the length of your posts, this is something you should test for yourself but OkDork found that posts on Thursdays received the most views.
How can I make sure people see my post?
Now that you've posted on LinkedIn, you'll want to make sure as many people as possible read it and then proclaim you a genius. Here are a few things you can do to boost your post's reach:
1. The good news on that is that all of your LinkedIn connections (as well as anyone who starts following you as a publisher) will be automatically notified that you have posted.
2. That's a good start, but we can do better. LinkedIn Pulse curates posts in various categories, so anything that is featured there can count on receiving a LOT of views. Someone once told me “If you don't ask, you don't get” and that's the key thing here. LinkedIn actively invites people to submit their articles to be featured. All you have to do is tweet about the article with “Tip @LinkedInPulse”.
3. The tags I spoke about earlier are also a way for your post to be found. That's why it's important to choose them carefully.
4. Share your post. Promote it through your social channels. OkDork found that Twitter showed the highest correlation to LinkedIn engagement metrics.
5. Once you've posted and tweeted it yourself, reach out to influential people who would be interested in your topic. A tweet from the right account can give you a lot of visibility. Use Topsy to find influential people tweeting about your topic.
6. You don't have to tweet just once, either. The average lifespan of a tweet is 22 seconds, so it's easy for it to get lost. Tweet the link to your article a few times over a few days but use different wording each time. Try using alternative headlines or a key point or statistic picked out from the post.
How can I see how well my posts performed?
Of course, we want to see the results of all our hard work, so here are a couple of ways you can see how well your post actually did.
1. LinkedIn's own analytics. Found here, LinkedIn's analytics show you the views, likes, comments and shares for each of your articles.
You can also find them by going to your profile and then clicking on "View stats" next to the list of your posts.
2. Content Harmony's Sharemetric tool. This is a free plugin for Chrome which shows you the social shares of any webpage you visit. You can find more details and how to install it here. When you have it installed, just click on the icon in your toolbar and you should see something a bit like this:
These metrics are not only good for massaging your ego, it's also important to use them to plan what you write about next, as I mentioned earlier.
And there you have it, a comprehensive guide to LinkedIn publishing. Good luck.
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